On Stage: K’Valentine’s perfect timing

By Denny DyroffStaff Writer, The Times


K’Valentine is coming to Philly and it’s cool because her show is just a few days prior to Valentine’s Day.

K’Valentine is coming to the area for a show at the Theatre of the Living Arts (334 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1011, http://www.lnphilly.com) on February 9 and it’s really cool because Philly fans will be able to hear a performance by one of the best young artists in the hip hop and spoken word scenes.

Chicago’s K’Valentine is ready to explode in 2017. She’s put in the time, writing poetry since her youth, putting out three mixtapes, including one with Talib Kweli’s Javotti Media, and is finally ready to release her debut album, “Here for a Reason,” in March via Javotti Media.

A protégée and collaborator with hip hop star Talib Kweli, she will be opening for Kweli on his spring Seven Tour – the tour that hits Philly.

“A while ago, it was literally just poetry,” said K’Valentine, during a phone interview last week from a tour stop in Aspen, Colorado.

“It’s funny how things transpired. I was never able to see myself travelling the world as a hip hop artist. I always thought I’d be a poet. But, I also always loved hip hop.”

Now, she has embraced hip hop. In her song “Boomerang,” she states “I’m a Black Queen, I’m here to bring the real shit back to the hip hop scene.”

“It’s like a motto in a way,” said K’Valentine, who calls Chicago home.

K’Valentine began writing poetry as an alternative to express her emotions and then had the opportunity to meet with the world-renowned author and poet Dr. Maya Angelou.

Dr. Angelou was a speaker at my sister’s college,” said K’Valentine. “They allowed me to come backstage and meet her. When I met her initially, it was a bit awkward., I approached her and said – ‘Hi Maya.’ She didn’t like that. She said – ‘Dr. Angelou.’

“Then, I told her how much I admired her work and asked her if I could read her some of my poetry. She looked me right in the eye and said – ‘No.’ I said – ‘Why?’ She said – ‘Look around this room.’ It was too busy.

“I didn’t understand it at first. Now, I do. I’m an artist. I definitely get what she was saying. After she told me ‘No,’ she called her assistant and said – ‘I am going to help you. Send me two of your best poems and mark the envelope ‘personal.’”

K’Valentine listened to Angelou’s advice — that the best thing to do was practice and use her skills with words that she would be the best. Consequently, K’Valentine wrote poetry non-stop and started to notice her poems transitioning into songs.

After reciting poetry at numerous spoken word events and receiving positive feedback, she released her debut project, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” in 2011.

“I used to listen to rap songs and write the lyrics down,” said K’Valentine. “Tupac made me fall in love with hip hop. It was Drake who made me feel I could do hip hop. His delivery wasn’t as aggressive. He had songs that were more sensitive.”

K’Valentine embarked on her hip hop career – a career that just marked the release of her debut album.

“This album is going to fil a void,” said K’Valentine. “It represents people who are not spoken for. I’m speaking about real issues – real life. I’m not just making poetry anymore.”

Video link for K’Valentine –https://youtu.be/O7VFo0qAdHY.

The show, which features Taleb Kweli as the headliner, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $24.50.

Other upcoming shows at the TLA are Monster Energy Outbreak presents The Cadillac Three: The Black Roses Tour on February 10 and Box of Rain: Essential Grateful Dead 68-74 on February 11.

On February 10, one of the year’s most eagerly-anticipated shows at the Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will take place when the venue hosts Marco Benevento on February 10.

Marco Benevento

Benevento’s midwinter tour of the Northeast coincides with the release of his new live album, “Woodstock Sessions,” which was released on February 17.

“I had this band for the last five year,” said Benevento, during a phone interview last week from his home in Woodstock, New York. “Andy Border is a badass New York City drummer and Karina Rikeman plays heavy metal guitar.

“We’re touring the live record which was recorded at Applehead.”

Recorded in one single take at Applehead Recording in Woodstock in front of a sold-out studio audience this past summer, “Woodstock Sessions” marks Benevento’s inauguration into the acclaimed series, which already includes Bad Brains, Medeski Martin & Wood + Nels Cline and Joseph Arthur among others. 

“We brought 100 people into the barn to be the audience and played two hours – two sets. We played a lot of songs from my ‘The Story Of Fred Short’ album and also a number of songs from my ‘Swift’ album.”

Marco Benevento’s latest studio LP, “The Story of Fred Short,” is is touted as some of his finest and most adventurous work to date.

According to Benevento, he drew inspiration from diverse sources such as LCD Soundsystem, Harry Nilsson, Manu Chau and Gorillaz.

Now, the world-famous keyboard ace is looking ahead to his next studio album.

“I’ve been writing new music with vocals,” said Benevento. “I just try to write a good song. I make demo versions where I play everything and sing. Then, I take it to the band and tell them they’re free to change whatever they want. I’m always up for suggestions.

“There are 10 new song ideas I’ve been working with. The other night, I played one of the new songs and it went over rally well. The new songs are upbeat and dance-y. Like I said, the main thing for me is to write a good song.”

Benevento’s earliest recordings were back in the early 2000s as part of the Benevento/Russo Duo with drummer Joe Russo. He released his first solo album “Invisible Baby” in 2008.

“Even a record every two years is a lot,” said Benevento. “I don’t want to go crazy and oversaturate.”

Benevento has written, arranged and played his mostly instrumental songs and led his band from behind his customized piano and bank of drum machines, sequencers, keyboards and pedals. Prior to “Swift,” Benevento had never sung his own songs.

“I never liked my own voice,” said Benevento. “It’s too deep. I like the Robert Plant/David Bowie voice — the higher singing voice — so I never got into singing that much. I was self-conscious about it.

“On my ‘Tiger Face’ album, I had female vocals. I used Kalmia Traver from Rubblebucket on two songs. When I was working on ‘Swift,’ I had my phone in hand to call Kalmia but then I realized that the vocals would be missing in my live shows.

“So, I realized that now was the time to do it because I liked the songs with the vocals. Still, there aren’t many live vocals in the show. I made four records prior and all were instrumental. So, the majority of the set is still instrumental.”

Benevento’s diverse fan base has always been more interested in the songs not the singing.

“My demographic is really varied,” said Benevento. “My fans come from rock, jazz, jam band, electronic music and modern rock.

“It’s mostly a younger crowd. I have the jam band audience because I’ve played a lot of jam band festivals. I’ve also played a lot of electronic music festivals.”

Video link for Marco Benevento – https://youtu.be/mEVdFQNIvuI.

The show on February 10, which has WOLF! as the opening act, will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $17 in advance and $22 day of show.

Other upcoming acts at Ardmore are Alex & the Kaleidoscope play Family Funk on February 11, and Voodoo Dead (Steve Kimock, Jackie Greene, Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Chimenti & Papa Mali) on February 11 and 12.


It’s been a decade since West Chester’s Braham Crane put together his company called A.S.H. (which stands for “Artists.Simply.Human”).

A.S.H. made its area debut in 2004 with a pair of shows at the Painted Bride Art Center. In 2006, Crane brought his company back to Philly for a show at the prestigious Annenberg Center venue on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.

Over the years, A.S.H. has developed into one of the most respected modern dance companies in America. It also changed its punctuation and became simply ASH. The 2015-2016 tour season for ASH began in October in Orlando and will conclude in May in Miami.

Some of the stops along the way are Orlando, Toronto, Worcester, Tysons Corner, Nashville, Ogden, New Brunswick, Santa Clara, Dearborn, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Birmingham, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Tacoma, and Philadelphia. The local event will take place this weekend at Loew’s Philadelphia Hotel (1200 Market Street, Philadelphia).

“It’s a dance education type event,” said Crane, whose mother Joyce Crane ran Crane Performing Arts in West Chester for more than 25 years before recently closing shop. “It’s not like dance competition events.

“This year, we’re going to 14 different cities and then we’ll finish at Nationals in Orlando this summer. We have 12 different faculty members who are tops in the industry. They all travel to different cities.

“In Philly, it will be a three-day event with 100 companies and around 1,000 dancers. There will be two performance showcases with about 200 numbers over the two shows and a closing show on Sunday with the best numbers from the performance showcases along with faculty performances.

“All the shows are free and open to the public. And, all the showcases will be broadcast live via the internet.”

Video link for ASH Productions — https://youtu.be/PMFkLBwZgz4.

The event will run from noon on Feb. 10 until 3 p.m. on Feb. 12. The final activity will be the “Collaboration Class Performances” on Sunday at 1 p.m. followed by the “Closing Show” at 2 p.m. For more information on activities and schedules, call 855-ASH-Dance (855-274-3262) or visit https://ashdance.com.

The Machine

Pink Floyd fans know that there are hundreds of Pink Floyd tribute acts around the world.

They know that a few of them are really top-flight, most of them are ordinary and some are a downright waste-of-time.

Pink Floyd fans definitely know which acts are primo. That’s why fans from this area will be at the Scottish Rites Theatre (315 White Horse Pike, Collingswood, N.J., http://www.collingswood.com/entertainment/theater-and-ballroom) on February 10 for a concert by The Machine.

The Machine — Joe Pascarell (lead guitar, vocals), Scott Chasolen (keyboards, vocals), Ryan Ball (bass, vocals), Tahrah Cohen (drums) — is a Pink Floyd tribute band that has been performing the music of the British classic rock act for more than 20 years.

Over the course of its decades-plus history, The Machine has developed a repertoire that covers Pink Floyd’s entire career — from 1967’s “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” to the “new” Pink Floyd album “The Endless River,” which was just released last year.

The New York based band focuses on making every show an authentic Floydian experience for their fans. Known for performing a diverse mix of The Floyd’s extensive 16-album repertoire (complete with faithful renditions of popular hits as well as obscure gems), The Machine’s stellar musicianship, dramatic lighting and video, and passionate delivery sets apart from the rest.

In the classic tradition, The Machine explores collective improvisation paralleling and even rivaling that of an early 1970’s Pink Floyd mentality. Their use of expanded theatrical elements and elaborate stage displays continues in the spirit of the later Floyd lineups of the 1980’s.

The band is also known for recreating entire albums as a part of their show, accepting requests from fans, and for taking an A to Z approach in which one song is played for every letter of the alphabet. Additionally, the quartet has been sharing the stage with full symphony orchestras, including the Atlanta, Detroit, Pittsburgh and San Diego Symphonies.

“For the most part, it’s the same group of songs people want to hear,” said Pascarell. “They don’t want to hear something new and we honor that. We play songs like ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ ‘Comfortably Numb’ and a number of songs from ‘The Wall.’ Some songs are always there — songs that you hear on the radio a lot.

“It’s always fun to play them. There are times we can leave them out — but not often. Those are times when we do special concerts throughout the year. We do things like symphonies and, from time to time, we do acoustic shows.”

Video link for The Machine — https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=emmlx766s3M.

The show at the Scottish Rites Theatre will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $29 and $36.

Upcoming shows at the Flash are Better Than Bacon on February 9, “Crowded Streets – A Tribute to Dave Matthews Band” on February 10 and Sin City Band with Special Guest Billy Penn Burger along with BerdDog Music Club on February 11.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host Jeffrey Gaines on February 10, Hurricane Hoss & Friends on February 11 and Philadelphia Main Line Ukulele Group on February 12.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will host Near Nightmare, Little Beast and Mike Matteson on February 10 and Gamma Wolf and John Valerio on February 11.

Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse (204 South Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, 484-427-4547, www.burlapandbean.com) will present Pete Lanctot and the Stray Dogs with Cassidy and the Music on February 10 and Craig Bickhardt on February 11.

World Café Live at the Queen (500 North Market Street, Wilmington, 302- 994-1400, www.queen.worldcafelive.com) will host The Black Jacket Symphony Presents: Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of The Moon on February 10, Lower Case Blues on February 10, Erin Lee and the Up Past Bedtime Band on February 11, SuiteFranchon Entertainment presents The Formula of Love on February 11, and Gable Music Ventures presents Wilmo Wednesdays on February 15.

World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.comChris Smither and Milton on February 10,  Kyf Brewer on February 11, Peanut Butter and Jams welcomes

SteveSongs on February 12, RetroLove on February 12, Mattan Klein on February 12, Bohéme Big Band – Valentine’s Day Love Fest on February 14, Wrabel and Jesse Ruben on February 14, and Angelee and Greg Jones Project on February 15.

Theatre of the Living Arts (334 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1011, http://www.lnphilly.com) features Talib Kweli on February 9, Monster Energy Outbreak presents The Cadillac Three: The Black Roses Tour on February 10 and Box of Rain: Essential Grateful Dead 68-74 on February 11.

Boot and Saddle (1131 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-639-4528, www.bootandsaddlephilly.com) will have Shy Girls with Flamingosis on February 9, Suuns with Brian Case on February 10, The York Street Hustle on February 11 and July Talk with Mona, and Little Junior on February 15.

The Trocadero (10th and Arch streets, Philadelphia, 215-922-6888, www.thetroc.com) hosts “HBO The Crashing Comedy Tour with Pete Holmes, Judd Apatow, Artie Lang and Special Guests” on February 10.

Union Transfer (1026 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, 215-232-2100, www.utphilly.com) will have Corey Smith on February 10, Boombox on February 11 and The Radio Department on February 14.

Fillmore Philadelphia (1100 Canal Street, Philadelphia, 215-309-0150, www.thefillmorephilly.com) hosts Savoy on February 9 (The Foundry), The Werks on February 10 (The Foundry), O-Town on February 12 (The Foundry).

Electric Factory (421 North Seventh Street, Philadelphia, 215-627-1332, www.electricfactory.info) hosts “SKILLET UNLEASHED TOUR 2017 with Sick Puppies, and Devour The Day” on February 10 and Rick Astley, Harrison Kipner, and DJ Robert Drake on February 11.

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